Three Major Aussie Retailers Caught Using Facial Recognition Technology In-Store

An investigation has found

Article heading image for Three Major Aussie Retailers Caught Using Facial Recognition Technology In-Store

A recent consumer group investigation has found that three major Australian retailers have been utilising facial recognition technology without informing their customers.

Bunnings, The Good Guys & Kmart have been caught out using facial recognition software which takes facial imprints of their customers and keeps them on file for future use. 

Research by consumer group Choice showed that of 25 of Australia’s major retailers, only three were found to be using the facial recognition software.  

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According to the research, Bunnings admitted the software was being used in their stores saying the software was in place in a bid to crack down on stealing.

The software captures an image of the customer’s face and stores the facial imprint on file to use for the customer’s future instore visits.

Both Kmart and Bunnings claim they have small signs posted out the front of their stores along with a privacy policy accessible to the public online. 

Consumer Group data advocate Kate Bower told The Sydney Morning Herald that this isn’t enough.

“Discreet signage and online privacy policies are not nearly enough to adequately inform shoppers that this controversial technology is in use. The technology is capturing highly personal data from customers, including infants and children,” she said.

Bunnings chief operating officer Simon McDowell said the software was only being used to protect staff and to prevent thievery.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of challenging interactions our team have had to handle …This technology is an important tool in helping us to prevent repeat abuse of team and customers,”

- Bunnings Chief Operating Officer Simon McDowell

Mr McDowell said Bunnings informs customers that the software is in use and adequately complies with the current Privacy Act. 

“Our use is solely for the purpose of preventing threatening situations and theft, which is consistent with the Privacy Act.

“We let customers know if the technology is in use through signage at our store entrances and also in our privacy policy, which is available on our website.”

Choice have reported the three retailers to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner for further investigation.

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Georgie Marr

15 June 2022

Article by:

Georgie Marr

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